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Universities across the UK have rapidly moved their learning, teaching and assessment online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented overhaul of traditional teaching practices has presented a major challenge to institutions, staff and students. In this Good Practice Briefing, HEi-know shows how some universities have responded to the situation.
Sutton Trust associate director of media and communications Hilary Cornwell and research and policy assistant Maariyah Dawood comment on equality and widening access issues that have emerged in a week of higher education news.
Reviewing a week of higher education news, Action on Access Director Andrew Rawson celebrates positive action on equality and social inclusivity taken in the HE sector and calls for matching support from the government and employers.
The universities minister has strongly criticised the renaming of university buildings and the removal of statues prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement as “short sighted” and an attempt to censor the past.
As domestic students make their final decisions about which universities to go to, universities are endeavouring to reassure them that campus life would be back to ‘near normal’ by September. Meanwhile international student numbers are looking shaky, while higher education is being sucked into debates around the Black Lives Matter campaign. Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer of the Institute of Student Employers explains why he doesn’t envy Vice Chancellors right now.
UK universities can expect to admit around 14,000 fewer students from East Asia countries this Autumn, representing a £463 million drop in income from tuition and living expenses, according to a survey conducted by the British Council.
The rate of progress towards widening access targets in Scottish higher education has slowed so much that there are now "fewer grounds for optimism" that they will be achieved, the Commissioner for Fair Access has warned.
Research England has selected 21 English universities to take part in a pilot Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which will run between February and May 2019.
The pilot exercise will feed into a raft of evidence, including from a consultation, on how the KEF will operate in England.
Research England says it received an extremely high response rate to a January 2019 call for expressions of interest to take part in the pilot exercise, with interest expressed from every proposed KEF cluster across England. To reflect this exceptional level of interest, it has increased the pilot group from a previously published size of between 12 and 16 institutions to 21. These have been drawn from all of the proposed KEF clusters, and represent a diverse range of English higher education institutions, with a good geographical cross-section of institutions from across the country, it said.
English HEIs not involved in the pilot exercise can contribute to how the KEF could work by completing a survey as part of the consultation, which is open until 14 March 2019.
Research England’s Director of Knowledge Exchange, Alice Frost, said: "We are very pleased with the enthusiasm expressed by the sector to engage with the KEF through this pilot exercise. The high level of interest has allowed us to build a pilot group that includes universities from every one of the proposed KEF clusters and with a wide range of other characteristics. Having a fully representative group of pilot institutions is important to ensure the KEF is a robust and useful framework for universities and other users."
The KEF aims to provide institutions with new ways to understand, benchmark and improve their performance, and to provide business and other users of HEI knowledge with another source of potentially useful information.
Research England will work with the pilot group to test the specific metrics and proposed narrative statements, as well as the cluster membership, and how results should be presented, during a series of workshops between February and May 2019.
The outcomes of these workshops will be published in a report evaluating the pilot, alongside an analysis of consultation responses. Research England anticipates publishing these documents in early summer 2019, with final decisions on how the KEF should progress in 2019-20 in late summer 2019.
Research England published a document detailing proposals for how the Knowledge Exchange Framework could work, for consultation, in January 2019, seeking the higher education sector’s views on the proposals. The proposals set out in the KEF consultation document aim to implement a Government policy priority for the KEF set out in the Industrial Strategy White Paper in 2017. It is working with various other organisations to develop the KEF, including the devolved funding councils and executive bodies, learned societies, PraxisAuril, the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), the Office for Students, and other UKRI councils.
· Coventry University
· University of Plymouth
· University of the West of England
· Manchester Metropolitan University
· London School of Economics and Political Science
· Lancaster University
· University of Essex
· Teesside University
· University of Worcester
· University of the Arts London
· Arts University Bournemouth
· The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
· Solent University, Southampton
· Cumbria University
Social Science and Business (SSB) specialists
· Bishop Grosseteste University
· Imperial College London
· University of Southampton
· University of Oxford
· University of Sheffield
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) specialists
· Cranfield University
· Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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